Project Name: NASA-Museum Climate Change Science Education Collaborative: Online and Blended Teacher Professional Development Programs
Project Status: CURRENT
Selection Year: 2009
Organization: American Museum of Natural History (AMNH)
Project Description Project Investigator
To help meet the critical needs for a science-literate public and well-educated work force, particularly in the area of environmental science, required to rise to the challenges posed by increased global temperatures, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) proposes to collaborate with research scientists from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (NASA GISS), with the Earth System Science Education Alliance (ESSEA), and with the New York City Department of Education to develop a teacher professional development program on the science of climate change. The program will target secondary school teachers both nationally and in the greater New York City region, with a strong connection to the classroom use of NASA data and other resources. Program activities and products will include:

1. A semester-equivalent, online graduate course on the science of climate change for national audience of secondary school teachers;
2. A teacher institute on climate change, comprised of both online and AMNH-based elements, for secondary school teachers in the NYC metropolitan region; and
3. Online content resources about climate change for educators that will be made available to the ESSEA national network of higher education partners for use in undergraduate and graduate teacher education and professional development programs.

The goal of the project is to connect the expertise of NASA GISS climate science researchers to educators in a broad range of settings via newly developed professional development offerings from the AMNH--in order to enhance educators' content knowledge and thus to improve student learning on the science of climate change. The proposed work will draw upon the AMNH's leadership and experience in the creation of innovative, rigorous science professional development experiences in online, face-to-face, and blended formats. In particular, the project will utilize the strength of Seminars on Science, AMNH's award-winning online science professional development program, and its twin pillars of support--the Gottesman Center for Science Teaching and Learning, and the National Center for Science Literacy, Education, and Technology, both of which support the creation of networked learning experiences for teachers, students, and the general public. Project activities will be evaluated for impact and effectiveness, revised in response to that feedback, and subjected to summative evaluation to document impact. All programs are embedded in the scalable and sustainable framework of online and blended professional development at the Museum and are expected to continue long after the completion of the funding period.

The target audience for the proposed online course will be secondary school science teachers across the nation, while the project's Teacher Institutes will have substantial impact in the ethnically and economically diverse NYC public schools. As the resources developed for the online course will also reach a large number of additional secondary school teachers through ESSEA and its 43 partners, it is estimated that the project will impact hundreds of educators and tens of thousands of students during the project period, with comparable numbers expected beyond that period.

The proposed program is directly relevant to two of the goals articulated for the NASA's GCCE project: It will improve teaching and learning about global climate change in secondary schools and, by utilizing data-rich digital media resources produced by GISS researchers as well as requiring the creation of a curriculum unit utilizing My NASA Data, it will increase the number of students using NASA Earth Observation data/NASA Earth system models to investigate and analyze global climate change issues. In addition, the project is strongly aligned with NASA's three major education goals to engage Americans in NASA's mission, to strengthen NASA and the Nation's future workforce, and to attract and retain students in STEM disciplines.

Robert Steiner
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